COVID19 and Your Eyes: What to Know

April 3, 2020

The new novel virus, COVID-19, is a type of coronavirus. There are many different viruses called coronaviruses, and some of them can make you sick and even be fatal. This new coronavirus, COVID-19 causes mild-to-severe respiratory illness. Unfortunately, it can be hard to detect as people who are exposed may not show symptoms for up to 14 days. The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. It has been shown that some people develop pneumonia and can become seriously ill or even die from complications.

It is important to be aware of how this new virus can affect your overall health—even your eyes. Our Virginia team has done the research to help you understand how this virus could affect your eyes.

How Can COVID-19 Affect Your Eyes?

Coronavirus can be spread through the eyes, just as it does with the mouth and nose. When a person who is infected with the virus coughs or talks, particles can be sprayed into your face. Most likely, you will breathe in these tiny droplets through the mouth or nose. However, the droplets can also enter your body through the eyes. People who have coronavirus can even spread the disease through their tears. Touching tears or a surface where tears have landed is another way to become infected.

You can also become infected if you touch your eyes after touching a surface that has the virus on it.

If your eyes are infected with the virus it may cause Pink Eye (conjunctivitis). However, this is rare. Pink Eye is not something to panic about, call our office if you have any symptoms. We will give you detailed instructions as to how to care for them. It is important not to touch other people and to keep your hands clean. Pink eye is highly contagious.

Caring For Your Eyes During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Here are some ways that we will work to help protect our patient’s health during this global pandemic.

We recommend the following precautions:

  • If you experience any symptoms, such as a cough or fever you must call your doctor’s office to let them know. If your visit is not an emergency, you will most likely have to stay home.
  • If you arrive and are sick, your doctor may ask you to wear a mask or wait in a different area or you may be sent home.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your face and move away from the doctor and devices. Then you will need to wash your hands with soap and water immediately.

To slow the spread of coronavirus, it is important to guard your eyes, nose, and mouth. Here are some ways that you can keep your eyes safe and healthy during this outbreak:

If you wear contact lenses, switch to glasses:

Contact lens wearers touch their eyes more frequently than most people. To avoid touching your eyes, consider switching to glasses. This can reduce eye irritations and glasses can help to remind you not to touch your eyes. If you continue wearing contacts, be sure to clean and disinfect them as well as wash your hands before placing them in and after.

Wearing glasses can add a layer of protection

By wearing sunglasses or corrective lenses, these can shield your eyes from infected droplets. Although they may not provide 100% security, there is still a barrier between your eyes and other people.

Stock up on eye medicine if you can

If you have eye prescriptions, talk to your insurance provider about stocking up on multiple months. Some insurers will approve a 3-month supply of medication. It is important to stay on top of these things especially during a pandemic. Continue to request refills as soon as you are due.

Avoid rubbing your eyes

To lower your risk of infection, avoid rubbing your eyes. This can be a hard habit to break. If you feel the urge to itch or rub your eyes, use a tissue instead of your fingers. If you have dry eyes, this can lead to more rubbing. Consider adding moisturizing drops to your eye care routine. If you ever must touch your eyes, make sure to wash your hands first.

Changes to Routine Eye Exams and Procedures

We follow a very strict cleaning and disinfection guidelines. However, we do sit face-to-face with patients daily. Some changes are:

  • Intake of patients. We will provide only emergency services during this time. Any non-emergency services and procedures will be postponed.
  • It is important to call ahead before looking for a service.
  • When the office is open, we will have extra masks, face shields, and disinfectant sprays around the office. We will be taking extra precautions to protect our staff and patients.
  • We may ask you to wait outside instead of the normal waiting room to limit the number of people in the office.

Stay Healthy

It is important to stay healthy, now more than ever. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Contact us today to schedule a virtual consultation.  

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